Part IV

Aramaes reclined on the pillows in their main room after arriving once again from the confines of space to spend a few short days with them. The children were clustered about him asking him of his adventures in space. Pytheas was concilliatory to his brother, the banners and balloons about the house being much the same as they were on his last visit five years ago. Lethia was keeping one eye on Aramaes, and another on Pytheas whose calm demeanor was masking a raging storm. Pytheas with each passing moment was beginning to resent his brother all the more. The fanciful tales that he was spinning for his children's delight infuriated him. Why couldn't he be the one telling such tales? Why couldn't he be the one to go into space? He was the one who wanted it; Aramaes had never been interested.

Another thing that irked him was when Hanno asked, "Uncle Aramaes, why don't you look as old as Dad?"

Pytheas ran his tongue against the back of his teeth feeling their sharp contours, now dulled with age. He tried not to show the fury that was boiling beneath his scales. That his brother would live beyond him to nearly five generations was even more of an insult. Here his time was wasted toiling on an Earth that he wanted no part in, while Aramaes wandered about the expanse of space for several generations. Pytheas turned about then, not wanting to hear his brother's reply, and wen tinto the bedroom. He gripped one of the pillows inhis claws, and began to slowly tear streakes into it, until the pillow burst, floating to the floor in tatters.

Lethia followed him in a few moments later, and saw the remnants of the pillow. She looked at him, her whole demeanor cold as steel. "You will get out there, and you will treat your brother with love. I will not let you destroy the his happiest moments in life."

"He has all the time in the world to spend in space, why should he care about what's here." Pytheas objected, trying to keep his voice down.

"Lower your voice." Lethia commanded, obviously also at the end of her patience. "Do you want to scare the children?"

"No." Pytheas admitted in a smaller, less confrontational voice.

"Your brother loves you, and it is for you that he comes back here. He doesn't have to come back, he does it out of love, now don't return that love with hate." Lethia chided him.

Pytheas was too full of his own anger to listen to reason, or to accept that his brother's intentions were anything but malicious. "My brother doesn't love me. He comes back just to rub my muzzle into the fact that he gets to go into space and I don't. I'd rather he never came back."

Lethia was obviously not expecting such vehemence from her husband, as her neck had gone pale, and her nostrils flared up in rage. "How could you say that?"

Pytheas had no answer for her, but instead, stormed past her, and out into the living room. Lethia called after him, obviously no longer concerned whether anybody heard her or not, "Pytheas, you get back here!" Pytheas stormed past a surprised Aramaes, and his three children who were obviously quite shocked by the fire that kindled in their father's very gait. Pytheas left the house, grabbed at the welcome banner strung across the doorway, tore it down, and then marched out towards the hov. He ripped the banner to pieces before climbing into the hov, and flying off across the city streets, and then out into the desert.

Pytheas didn't know where he was going, all he knew was that he had to get out of that house, before his brother's presence suffocated him with wrath. His anger turned into self-pity at some point, and he recklessly put the hov up to dangerous speeds, hoping in one part of his mind that he may suffer form an accident, ending the misery of existence that he was forced to endure without his passion. Another part of him, the more rational part, thought this was silly, and made sure that he did not impose and accident upon himself. Either way, Pytheas was most certainly lost out in the desert at the middle of daytime without benefit of food - though the hov always had a supply of water.

He finally stopped the vehicle when he felt that he could no longer bear to be in it. He stepped upon the sand, feeling it between his toes. He lay down on the hot earth, his scaled belly feeling the sand underneath him rather seductively. Perhaps they were never meant to rise up from the earth, perhaps they had been meant to crawl about on their bellies for all time. How dare anyone decide to change that. How dare they deny him the genes he so badly needed. Was this whole means of existence just a joke against him? Was everybody laughing at him? Was Lethia and Aramaes sitting at his home laughing at the plight of poor Pytheas? Were his children giggling at the idea of their unclein space but their father very much a man of the earth? He felt sorrow well up in him again, and he clutched at the san din furry. He felt his tail thrash, and his claws slash small ditches into the sand. He beat his muzzle against the ground, as if that would do any good.

After a time, he finally calmed down enough to recline upon the sand as he would pillows, elbows proping his muzzle up to consider the world. He saw on the horizon the crescent figure of the second moon beginning it's ascent into the sky. Of to his left he could see the first moon already well up in the sky, it's craterous face contrasting the smooth features of the second moon. The only heavenly lights of the night that showed themsleves to him anymore. Even when he did see the stars, they glared at him, almost in reproach. Here were the two moons, both of them reachable by any man, but Pytheas was no scientist, and therefore had no reason to be there. His duties lied on the Earth, and he should never abandon them for as long as he should live. He rejected such philosophy as the mindless drivel of the state and their inability to understand the feelings and ambitions of those such as he.

He climbed back into the hov, and set sail once agian over the dunes. He had no conception of where he was going, just more mindless wandering, hopefully to take his mind of these weighty matters. His mind was brought back to them in a very real sense when he noticed that he had driven striahgt to a very familiar place. It was the launch pad that he had been to with his family only a few hours before to retrieve Aramaes once again. He had been coming here a lot recently. Every few nights it seems like he was making his way to this locale, as if somehow one of the scientists who worked there would take pity on him and let him go up on the next shuttle. He usually just walked about the outside in his thermal jacket, casually glancing at the place in abject hatred or in amorous desire.

Today though, he stepped out of his vehicle, and the emotions that he had felt in his home talking with Lethia came once again to the forefront. He picked up a nearby stone, and hurled it at the observatory. It bounced harmlessly off the windows, landing with a resounding thud upon the pavement that supported the whole structure. Undaunted, he picked up a larger stone, and aimed it at more ancient looking glass. He heaved the rock, but it fell short of the mark, landing on a nearby cactus, snapping it in half. The water contained there in leaked out, quenching the thirst of the parched sand nearby. Pytheas howled in rage, now just picking up whatever was in reach, and dashing it against the walls of the observatory, not caring what it did. After a few moments, he slumped to the ground, and held his muzzle in his hands, letting out chocked cries of anguish. The observatory remained still, nobody ever stirred to have him arrested for his actions. Nobody cared.

Defeated once agian, Pytheas slunk off to his hov, slid in it, and began the ominous trek back to his home.

When he arrived, he did not find anybody there except his brother Aramaes. Aramaes, who had been waiting outside, bore an expression of relief upon seeing him return. Pytheas was too emotionally drained to even feel the stirrings of anger.

"Pytheas!" Aramaes exclaimed upon seeing him. "Where have you been? Everybody was worried about you."

"I'll bet." Pytheas replied contemptuously. "I was out wandering."

"Why would you want to do that?" Aramaes replied.

"Because I am just sick of the way fate has treated me. What plan of fate's contrived my ironic existence. Is fate benevolent? Is fate out for the best of humankind? Most certainly not in my case." Pytheas declared, feeling the stirrings of passion start to resurface.

"Pytheas, I'd trade places with you in an instant." Aramaes told him, his face one that might have been sympathy, or carefully worded slights.

"Don't give me that." Pytheas retorted nastily. "You get to see other worlds. You get to explore things beyond our field of knowledge. You get to live to days that my grandchildren will never see. Don't tell me you'd trade all of that for a pointless existence on Earth."

Aramaes shook his head, "I would. The picture you paint of my life is more rosy than you know. In my travels, I have never seen a planet more beautiful than Earth. Everything I see is dead. Even a desert has more life than what I encounter on a daily basis. Unless they fire me, which I doubt they will since there are so few with the proper gene sequence, I'll never get to see some of the wonders of this Earth. I will never see the Ancient Spire, or the mountains that rise up out of the sea on the other side of the world. I have always wanted to spend more time in the jungles to the east, but for a brief visit in our childhood when I was too young to appreciate what I was seeing, I've never been there. There are so many things on this Earth that are worth seeing, and I will never get to do it.

"And if you think that I enjoy the fact that I will see your great-grandchildren grow old and die, then you are greatly mistaken. I don't want to have to attend your funeral, and the funeral of your wife, and the funeral of your children and their spouse's, and the funeral of their children, and their children, until finally I die myself, nearly three hundred years after I was born, in a world that I no longer recognize, and that thinks of me only as an anachronism. I would like to die with those that I call my friends and family, and that has been denied to me. There is no joy or glory in space travel." Aramaes then looked away from Pytheas for a moment, and regarded himself. "I'd cut off my own tail if I thought it would mean that I would not longer have to go up into space. The only way that I can escape it is to die, and nobody wants to die. Pytheas, you have something very precious, a beautiful wife who loves you with all her heart, and three darling children. Why are you trying to destroy that?"

"Were are my wife and kids?" Pytheas asked, their absence suddenly catching his attention.

"They went to the play that we were all going to attend tonight, until you disappeared. I decided to stay here and wait for your return."

Pytheas looked up at the sky. It was getting dark already, the cold chill of the night would be upon them soon. Pytheas looked up to see if he could see any stars yet. The first moon he could see was getting brighter, the second was just behind some buildings, so he had no idea of it. There stars were not yet shining. Pytheas returned his gaze to Aramaes. "Do you know what it is like to have a passion, Aramaes?"

"I don't quite think so no." Aramaes replied.

"Well, I have a passion for the stars. I always have. You may remember when we were young, I had memorized the names of all the planets and could name every star. I knew many of the more common procedures for space flight, and I could name all the living astronauts. Do you remember that?" Pytheas spoke with a bitterness that came form every year in his life form that moment that he had been told that he could not enter space.

"I remember that." Aramaes admitted.

"How do you think I felt when I found out that the only thing I ever desired would be denied me?"

"Pretty awful I imagine." Aramaes replied, looking a bit down now himself.

"I thought that my life was destroyed, that there could be no happiness for me. For a time Lethia and my children made up for that, I still love them dearly, but not as much as I love space. Over these past years, my passion has begun to take a hold of me more firmly than ever. I have to go to space, no matter what." Pytheas declared.

"Even if it means destroying Lethia and your children?" Aramaes asked.

Pytheas stopped. How could he say yes when he admitted that he still loved them? How could he say no when his heart was already preppared to leave them by the wayside? He just stood there dumbstruck, going over each answer in his mind and heart, coming to no resolution. "So you would destroy them for your passion?" Aramaes surmised suddenly, breaking Pytheas's line of thought.

"Yes, I mean no, well, I don't really know. I don't want to see that happen, but I need to go to space." Pytheas stumbled for an answer, his body quivering from the anguish which was overtaking him. He felt like his soul was going to explode from the emotions that having been brought back to life were now warring in him. His guts wrneched about themselves, and his stomach nearly upended itself in his disgust with himself. He finally, unable to stand it any longer, stormed past Aramaes into his home, and slammed the door shut on his brother. He turned the lock, and went into his bedroom. His brother knocked on the door, yelling out a few pleas that he unlock the door, but Pytheas couldn't bring himself to do it. Eventually the banging stopped, and he was left alone in his misery.

When Aramaes finally had to leave a few days later, Pytheas only barely was able to make himself show up at the launch. He looked withered, having abstained from any nourishment the past few days, unable to drag himself form his room for any purpose whatsoever. Lethia held his children apart from him, and this put him into greater strains of misery. His children looked scared at him, and he found the idea very repulsive that his children would have cause to fear him. Lethia had no spoken a word to him since returning from the play, but he had a feeling that once Aramaes was off, her silence would end.

Aramaes embraced his nephews and niece, and then gave Lethia a comforting nuzzle, whispering soething in her ear. She nodded, and then returned the affectionate nuzzling. Aramaes then turned to Pytheas, who was staring distractedly at the shuttle, not sure what he was feeling, anguish or anger. He noticed Aramaes consider him for a few moments before finalyl saying, "Pytheas, please enjoy your life, I don't want to see you like this."

"The get on your damn shuttle and leave." Pytheas hissed between his teeth.

Aramaes was taken aback by the sudden hostility, but then calmed himself down, "I love you brother, I always have. I wish that things could have worked out better. Perhaps when I return we can go and see some of the wonders of this world that I told you of earlier?"

Pytheas held back the snarl that was welling up in him, "Perhaps." he replied. "Right after you finishing telling my children about your wonderful adventures and how great space is."

"Pytheas...." Aramaes objected.

"Good-bye, Aramaes." Pytheas turned from his brother, and started walking away.

"Pytheas!" Aramaes called after him. "Don't leave!"

Pytheas kept on walking, he never wanted to speak to his brother again. How could fate be this cruel to him? Why him and not he? Why? He thought of the stars and how they glared at him malevolently. "Damn them all!" he muttered under his breath. He saw a passing scientist who was dressed to ride on the shuttle. It was only with the greatest of effort that Pytheas kept himself form trying to strangle the man. His eyes were of death and pure visceral hatred. "Damn them all!" hemuttered once more, before leaving the observatory proper and crumpling on the sand once more to weep.

|| Home | Links | Contents ||

Talk to me!